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Within this guide, we will look at the common event technology pain points from our research and offer solutions on how technology can be used to alleviate these issues and increase event engagement as well as overall attendee satisfaction at every stage of your event.
Technology plays a crucial role in successful event planning. Not only does it allow those in the events industry to do their jobs better, but it helps create an engaging and flawless attendee experience as well; a true win-win.
But while simple in theory, implementing technology comes with a lot of questions and a lot of difficulties. When given this task, event planners may be asking themselves: What exact solution is right for my event? How do I use technology effectively in my event planning. What will my attendees respond to? How can I go above and beyond to increase event engagement and overall attendee satisfaction?
The meeting and event industry is constantly changing as improvements in technology make it easier for planners to engage with attendees. But what hasn’t changed is the importance of keeping your attendees engaged throughout your event lifecycle to increase ROI.
We conducted a survey with 239 event professionals from around the world and found that 48% of them believe that attendee satisfaction and event engagement are the most important indicators of event success. Although this was an expected result, most planners are only scratching the surface on offering an optimal attendee experience. Finding technology that will help supplement the in-person experience will bring an event to the next level.
No matter the case, attendee satisfaction is vital to attracting an audience and building a following for your event for years to come. While technology only plays part of a role in that, it’s important to get it right for your unique event needs.
You can’t improve upon your biggest event technology pain points without identifying them first, and figuring out what they are is certainly easier said than done as technology plays a role on so many levels throughout your event’s lifecycle. Pain points can also vary based on a variety of factors such as event size and geography (check out our global pain point infographic below). Along with attendee satisfaction, there are also many perspectives to consider when creating your goals in this area: making your staff members’ lives easier, keeping up with industry trends and having an edge over your competition.
While we’re largely focusing on attendee satisfaction and event engagement in this guide, no matter your goals, it’s best to discuss potential pain points with all your stakeholders to figure out what needs aren’t being met. Whether it’s as broad as creating a more high-tech event overall or as specific as to alleviating lines at registration, often event pain points are connected, and you won’t be able to put all those pieces together without getting everything out on the table.
The different choices and the paths to take with technology can be overwhelming, so you will learn some tried and true solutions to very relatable event planner problems.
Pre-event planning is largely focused on maintaining or increasing attendee numbers and, therefore, increasing potential revenue. As they say, there are no second chances when it comes to making a first impression, and that saying could not be more true when it comes to attendee satisfaction; it starts at the very beginning of the event process. This is why the registration process needs to be as smooth and efficient as possible.
The first step an attendee experiences when beginning their event journey is, of course, registration. So, it’s concerning to hear that 51% of event planners say that managing attendee registration is one of their top pre-event pain points. If your registration process looks unprofessional, crashes or takes forever to complete, then you’re already losing credibility with your attendees, and risk having them show up to your event with a negative impression.
In this case, finding an event software platform that can build a professional and automated registration website is key. Attendees like a simple, quick and trustworthy registration experience. Use an event software that can build a customized registration process that records and displays relevant information. Have it match your branding to build that level of trust when it comes to submitting payments.
There are many other additional features to consider when wanting to increase attendee satisfaction during pre-event registration as well. Items such as auto-populated information for loyal attendees, discount code creation, automatic confirmation emails, self-editing registration information and multilingual/multicurrency capabilities can enhance this service even further.
While the outward registration process is important, don’t forget about the backend as well! Look for features that offer template creation for quick form building and automatic reports to keep track of your registration targets and goals – anything to make the event management process seamless for you and your staff. That way, you free up time to focus on more important things to promote attendee satisfaction and event engagement, like event content.
Even more event planners, 56%, say that targeting the right people with the right event content is another common struggle. Events are nothing without engaging, on-target content to market to attendees. Advertise the wrong or misleading content, and attendees will leave your event feeling like they’ve wasted their time.
Use surveys and data reports as an opportunity to understand your attendees better. If you are one of the event planners out there struggling to pick the most engaging event content, then add content-related questions to your registration form. Tracking the levels of professional titles, age groups and other important demographics attending your event can also help you select and curate the content most appealing to your audience. You can then take into account what you've learned when asking for and reviewing session proposals, selecting keynote speakers and working with sponsors to build an engaging experience.
While onsite, allow attendees to have their say every step of the way. Get more specific, real-time attendee feedback about your event content by providing digital and mobile-friendly surveys after each session or experience. If your surveys are short and easily accessible, the more likely your attendees will be at actually filling them out.
Dig even deeper into what exact content your attendees are responding to. Using marketing automation or CRM software, you can also track what content or links people are clicking on your website, promotional emails and other mediums to know what they responded to the most. Use platforms like Salesforce, Marketo or HubSpot, to create specific attendee profiles that link to your marketing and registration data. During your event, you can send push notifications through your mobile app that can notify individual groups of attendees of sessions that they may like based on their profile.
Modern virtual and hybrid event platforms provide a proven way to deliver immersive experiences that drive value for constituents and ultimately improve event engagement.
No doubt you can choose all the bells and whistles. But it’s best to tailor the technology to your attendees’ ability to consume it. To find the right engagement features, start by answering these four questions:
Your answers will help define the structure of your event. Virtual platforms can scale up to showcase dozens of concurrent sessions reaching thousands of people worldwide. But remember, attendees like a clean, straightforward, high-quality experience. If this is their first virtual event, it’s best to start with a simple format and build from there.
Interactive sessions like polling, chat boxes, quizzes, Q&A’s, surveys and note taking bring presentations to life and make remote attendees feel like they’re part of the conversation. One vital capability is question submissions. With the right platform, you enable two-way video interactions between a presenter and attendee that all other attendees can see in real-time.
Surveys are another tried-and-true feature. At virtual events, attendees are constantly online, so it’s easy for them to answer polls and surveys during sessions. Using real-time feedback, presenters can gauge how their session is going. Plus, organizers gain useful business intelligence to measure the overall success of their event.
Take virtual engagement a step forward by encouraging speakers to break up sessions every 15-20 minutes for attendees to take a poll, ask questions or complete an exercise. You’ll help attendees stay focused and feel included. In addition to this, arrange for someone beside the speaker to moderate Q&As and ensure all questions get answered. Lastly, mix live-streamed and pre-recorded content. Even with the most engaging features, people may not want to sit through a full conference day. Give them options by combining live-streamed and pre-recorded content. Then, make everything available on-demand afterward for attendees to access on their own schedule.
There are so many moving parts during the onsite experience that can dramatically affect attendee satisfaction and overall event engagement. From having an event that flows smoothly and promotes networking and engagement, to providing a high-quality customer service experience and good food options - especially for new attendees, these are the things that can make or break an event. Technology can be included in every one of these parts and should only be there to enhance, not hinder the experience.
Upon arriving onsite, the first step for attendees is to stop by the registration desk to check in, get their badges, and to ask any immediate questions. You may have the most helpful and approachable staff with excellent customer service skills, but even that can’t stop common onsite registration issues such as longlines and waiting periods just to complete what should be a quick and easy process. Therefore, it’s troubling to hear that 42% of our survey respondents said registration & check-in is a major issue.
Pre-event registration and the onsite check-in go hand in hand, both for attendees and the staff that’s helping them. That’s why finding an event software that can take all the information and data inputted by attendees prior to the event and allows users to access data that has been transferred is key.
Time consuming tasks like sorting through pre-printed badges can be solved by electing to print onsite. With most electronic printing systems, you can manage 250 check-ins per hour, four times faster than finding a pre-printed badge. This also gives you and the attendee an opportunity to correct any spelling errors or update outdated information, making the badge creation process a lot more efficient. No more handwritten or names crossed out on badges; printing them onsite will make every badge look professional.
Another way to reduce stress and long lines at check-in is to let your tech savvy attendees do it themselves. Whether it’s at self-service check-in kiosks or on their mobile devices (or both!), allowing attendees who need little to no assistance to skip the lines is taking your onsite services one step further, while also showcasing your event as a high tech one.
Informed attendees are happy attendees. But with 44% of event planners struggling with onsite communication, it sounds like many attendees are feeling a bit lost. Having a communication plan for pre-, during and post-event messaging is essential to the attendee experience. Whether it’s sending out simple reminders or major schedule changes, attendees need to be in the loop as soon as possible, wherever possible.
First, having software that can email your attendee list at the touch of button can automate the communication process. By creating templates to match your event branding, you can further simplify the process and make it consistent while getting your messaging out right when you need to.
While email messaging should still be a priority for event planners, it shouldn’t be the only vehicle for communication. Another solution that immediately comes to mind is having an event mobile app. Although it seems like a very common practice, not even half (47%) of our respondents say they use a mobile app for their events. Not only does it act as an information hub for all things related to your event, but it can also be the place to receive the latest updates or schedule changes through push notifications and alerts. The latter is especially true when it comes to safety, a rising concern for events planners and attendees alike.
Explore various social media channels and use them wisely. Facebook and Twitter are a given these days, but don’t be afraid to branch out. Take the time to think of your goals as an event, as well as your audience and their needs. If your event is more formal, as well as focused on business and networking, then LinkedIn is the way to go. If you have lots of opportunities to display visual content and cool new technologies, then Instagram is perfect. And if your audience is young, tech-savvy and fun, then Snapchat might be worth exploring.
When an event is over, a top priority for all event planners is to learn what you did right and learn where to make improvements. A common practice for when measuring attendee satisfaction is sending out surveys, but that often only touches the surface. An attendee may say they liked or didn’t like something at your event, but what does that really mean? What about it can you change to increase attendee satisfaction and event engagement in the future?
The answer is measuring event ROI. The good news is that a majority of event planners say they are already doing this, at 65% respectively. However, simply measuring it is not enough. Many event planners struggle with how to analyze ROI data, as well as how to implement it into future, even more successful events.
Analyzing ROI starts from something as simple as creating a game plan and determining your goals. Start small by selecting one or two metrics that you want to be able to track throughout your event’s lifecycle. If technology and its relationship with attendee satisfaction are the metrics, then put the steps in place pre-event to measure this during your actual event. Your indicators can be found through an increase in mobile app adoption, positive feedback from attendee surveys and the amount of engagement found on your various social media channels. Also, be aware that measuring ROI is not a quick process; in fact, it can take a couple years just to get measurable results that you can work with. But when it comes to improving your events for your attendees’ sake, laying down a solid foundation to get the results is worth it.
If you are not sure how to use ROI data effectively or want to simplify the process, then you are in luck. More tools specifically targeting event ROI are on the market today and they aim to dig deeper into how to set your goals as well as meet them. Once you have successfully begun to track one or two metrics for your event, it is time to invest in a solution that will allow you to see the full picture of your event’s success from not only the attendee standpoint, but that of your sponsors, partners, exhibitors, speakers or your own event staff. These solutions can give you actionable steps to take to increase success during your event, not just giving you the results post. Be proactive with your event’s success!
Another tool that a majority of event planners (66%) are taking advantage of is event management software, which is important as we think it can solve several common pain points. But there seems to be a variety of other tools that are being neglected that can certainly be used to increase attendee satisfaction. As mentioned earlier, half of event planners still don’t use mobile apps, just 20% use a venue sourcing tool and just 7% use a strategic meeting management program (SMMP).
With so many choices out there, adding these tools can be overwhelming and expensive. So, use that ROI data to drill down into your true problem areas to see which tools would make for the best investment to make your attendees happy. For example, if your hotel room reservation block has been low for a couple years or your attendees said they didn’t like how far away the convention center was from the airport, then a venue sourcing tool may be the next best tool to explore.
Don’t just jump on getting every tool you need at the same time, as it can be too much on your technology strategy and your budget to implement everything at once. Using your metrics, start with one thing that tackles your biggest pain point and work your way down. Choose to make your investment there and when looking for the right provider, look for a solution that can kill two (or more) birds with one stone and that can integrate well with other solutions. That way down the road when you decide to say, add a mobile app or registration system, you know they integrate with the software already in your ecosystem. This allows for an easy flow of information.
To us, it’s not too surprising that our survey respondents said attendee satisfaction was the top indicators for event success. After all, it’s the successes in that area that keep attendees coming back year after year and, therefore, allows your event to grow.
Technology and attendee satisfaction are certainly interlinked. At home, technology makes attendees’ lives easier and engaging and that experience should carry into learning and networking at your event.
Overall, the biggest lesson for event planners from our survey is that it’s good to give yourself and your event a good “physical” checkup from time to time. Along with taking the time to diagnose your specific pain points no matter where they are in the event lifecycle, make sure you do your research to find the perfect solutions to your event’s unique needs.
The perfect technology tool is out there, and once you find it, your events will be healthier in the long run.